Author: Sargent, Geoff

Live from Music Camp

I swear there is a CBA conspiracy to hold events on every third weekend just to make my welcome column more difficult to write. The campouts seem to fall on third weekends, Grass Valley runs over the third weekend, and the winter music camp definitely is on this third weekend. But……I try hard to keep my priorities in order. Take for example my schedule today. Wake up just in time for breakfast at music camp, help Ingrid out with some music camp duties, confer with Darby for a bit, eat lunch, drive down to SF for a gig, drive back in pretty poor traffic, find a jam, find another jam, look for another jam, and finally feel guilty enough to write the column. Note the jam priority, even though late in the evening, takes precedence over writing the column. Some folks try to use pleasant things as a motivation to do chores, but when I hit 50 I decided on a couple of things. First thing was don’t sweat other people’s opinion of me……I’m over 50 and figure that it’s beyond time for me to just tell things straight to folks and not worry about the fallout…there’s not enough time or money to for me to obsess about that stuff anymore. The other thing was to forget about trying to set up these artificial tricks to motivate. I’m over 50, the clock is running faster now, I have limited time to indulge…and jams and my bands are just going to take a higher precedence. The downside is having to write my welcome column at 2 AM in a kitchen full of fiddlers…at least I have my flask beside to help modify my perception of the noise…err music. I joke…the fiddlers are making good music and they happen to be cute.
Music camp….one of my most favorite things. I’ve written about music camp before and there is always some extra special thing that happens, some particularly meaningful moment. This time it was listening to Peter Rowan and Roland White talk about their time playing with Bill Monroe. Their conversation was personal….not a polite, politically correct reminisce but something you might expect to hear from a couple of guys sitting at a bar, drinking a beer, and talking about their old boss. Turns out Bill weren’t no saint. Indeed he was very human; he had feelings that got hurt, and his management style sounds like someone who expected his employees to read his mind and know by osmosis what they should or shouldn’t be playing. It made Bill Monroe sound like a man who had some hard times, spoke few words, and held a few grudges, but in the end a man who adapted. But, it wasn’t the stories that caught my imagination…it was Roland and Peter up on stage talking about their time playing. Two guys that some consider legends in their own, right up there talking about stuff. It sounded honest, it sounded personal, it sounded like it wasn’t easy, it sounded life changing. Don’t get me wrong here…they weren’t disrespecting Bill, exactly the opposite. Every word was spoken with fondness. But, like most good stories, some of the most meaningful recollections circle around personal idiosyncrasies and occasional misunderstandings. It got me thinking, what is my relationship to this thing called bluegrass. It is, by most definitions, a hobby, but one that takes me to places I didn’t expect to go; it has caused a whole wealth of friendships I wouldn’t have had otherwise, but I still wonder about what is my relationship to this thing. When I figure it out I’ll let you know. Playing this music with my friends though, sure makes me thankful that I decided to go to music camp the first time 5 years ago.
Posted:  2/19/2012

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